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Yet, fearful of disgrace, to try the day
The peers assent: when straight his sacred head Telemachus upraised, and sternly said :
“Stranger, if prompted to chastise the wrong of this bold insolent, confide, be strong! 'The injurious Greek that dares attempt a blow, 70 That instant makes Telemachus his foe; And these my friends shall guard the sacred ties Of hospitality, for they are wise."
Then, girding his strong loins, the king prepares To close in combat, and his body bares;
75 Broad spread his shoulders, and his nervous thighs By just degrees, like well turn'd columns, rise : Ample his chest, his arms are round and long, And each strong joint Minerva knits more strong(Attendant on her chief :) the suitor crowd 80 With wonder gaze, and gazing speak aloud :
“ Irus! alas! shall Irus be no more ? Black fate impends, and this the avenging hour! Gods ! how his nerves a matchless strength pro
claim, Swell o'er his well-strung limbs, and brace his frame !"
85 Then pale with fears, and sickening at the sight, They dragg’d the unwilling Irus to the fight; From his blank visage fled the coward blood, And his flesh trembled as aghast he stood.
“ Oh that such baseness should disgrace the light! Oh hide it, death, in everlasting night!"
91 Exclaims Antinous ; can a vigorous foe Meanly decline to combat age and wo ? But hear me, wretch! if recreant in the fray That huge bulk yield this ill-contested day, Instant thou sail'st, to Echetus resign'd; A tyrant, fiercest of the tyrant kind,
72 Antinous and Eurymachus.
Who casts thy mangled ears and nose a prey
While with indignant scorn he sternly spoke, 100
105 Or save his life; and soon his life to save The king resolves, for mercy sways the brave. That instant Irus his huge arm extends, Full on his shoulder the rude weight descends : The sage Ulysses, fearful to disclose
110 The hero latent in the man of woes, Check'd half his might; yet rising to the stroke, His jaw bone dash'd, the crashing jaw bone broke: Down dropp'd he stupid from the stunning wound; His feet extended, quivering, beat the ground: 115 His mouth and nostrils spout a purple flood; His teeth all shatter'd, rush immix'd with blood.
The peers transported, as outstretch'd he lies, With bursts of laughter rend the vaulted skies; Then dragg'd along, all bleeding from the wound: His length of carcass trailing prints the ground : 121 Raised on his feet, again he reels, he falls, Till propp?d, reclining on the palace walls: Then to his hand a staff the victor gave, And thus with just reproach address'd the slave : 125
“ There terrible, affright the dogs, and reign A dreaded tyrant o'er the bestial train! But mercy to the poor and stranger show, Lest Heaven in vengeance send some mightier wo."
Scornful he spoke, and o'er his shoulder Aung 130 The broad patch'd scrip; the scrip in tatters hung Ill join'd, and knotted to a twisted thong. Then, turning short, disdain'd a further stay; But to the palace measured back the way. There as he rested, gathering in a ring,
135 The peers with smiles address'd their unknown king:
Stranger, may Jove and all the aerial powers
140 Instant the flying sail the slave shall wing To Echetus, the monster of a king."
While pleased he hears, Antinous bears the food, A kid's well fatted entrails, rich with blood : The bread from canisters of shining mould 145 Amphinomus; and wines that laugh in gold : " And oh !” he mildly cries, “ may Heaven display A beam of glory o'er thy future day! Alas, the brave too oft is doom'd to bear The gripes of poverty, and stings of care." 150
To whom with thought mature the king replies ; “ The tongue speaks wisely, when the soul is wise ; Such was thy father! in imperial state, Great without vice, that oft attends the great : Nor from the sire art thou, the son, declined; 155 Then hear my words, and grave them in thy mind! Of all that breathes, or grovelling creeps on earth, Most man is vain! calamitous by birth : To-day, with power elate, in strength he blooms; The haughty creature on that power presumes: 160 Anon from Heaven a sad reverse he feels; Untaught to bear, 'gainst Heaven the wretch rebels. For man is changeful, as his bliss or wo; Too high when prosperous, when distress'd too low. There was a day, when with the scornful great 165 I swell'd in pomp and arrogance of state ; Proud of the power that to high birth belongs; And used that power to justify my wrongs. Then let not man be proud ; but firm of mind, Bear the best humbly, and the worst resign'd; 170 Be dumb when Heaven afflicts! unlike yon train Of haughty spoilers, insolently vain; Who make their queen and all her wealth a prey : But vengeance and Ulysses wing their way,
Oh mayst thou, favour'd by some guardian power,
176 For sure I am, if stern Ulysses breathe, These lawless riots end in blood and death."
Then to the gods the rosy juice he pours, And the drain'd goblet to the chief restores. 180 Stung to the soul, o'ercast with holy dread, He shook the graceful honours of his head; His boding mind the future wo forestalls, In vain! by great Telemachus he falls, For Pallas seals his doom: all sad he turns 185 To join the peers; resumes his throne, and mourns.
Meanwhile Minerva with instinctive fires Thy soul, Penelope, from Heaven inspires : With flattering hopes the suitors to betray, And seem to meet, yet fly, the bridal day: 190 Thy husband's wonder, and thy son's, to raise : And crown the mother and the wife with praise. Then, while the streaming sorrow dims her eyes, Thus with a transient smile the matron cries : Eurynome! to go where riot reigns
195 I feel an impulse, though my soul disdains; To my loved son the snares of death to show, And in the traitor friend unmask the foe; Who, smooth of tongue, in purpose insincere, Hides fraud in smiles, while death is ambush'd'there."
“Go, warn thy son, nor be the warning vain,” 201 Replied the sagest of the royal train; “ But bathed, anointed, and adorn'd, descend; Powerful of charms, bid every grace attend; The tide of flowing tears a while suppress; 205 Tears but indulge the sorrow, not repress. Some joy remains: to thee a son is given, Such as, in fondness, parents ask of Heaven.”
“ Ah me! forbear,” returns the queen," forbear, Oh! talk not, talk not of vain beauty's care;
210 No more I bathe, since he no longer sees Those charms, for whom alone I wish to please.
The day that bore Ulysses from this coast
Then while Eurynome the mandate bears, From heaven Minerva shoots with guardian cares; O'er all her senses, as the couch she pressid, 221 She pours a pleasing, deep, and deathlike rest, With every beauty every feature arms, Bids her cheeks glow, and lights up all her charms, In her love-darting eyes awakes the fires ; 225 (Immortal gifts! to kindle soft desires ;) From limb to limb an air majestic sheds, And the pure ivory o'er her bosom spreads. Such Venus shines, when with a measured bound She smoothly gliding swims the harmonious round, When with the graces in the dance she moves, 231 And fires the gazing gods with ardent loves.
Then to the skies her flight Minerva bends, And to the queen the damsel train descends : Waked at their steps, her flowing eyes unclose; 235 The tears she wipes, and thus renews her woes: “Howe'er 'tis well, that sleep a while can free With soft forgetfulness, a wretch like me ; Oh! were it given to yield this transient breath, Send, oh! Diana, send the sleep of death! 240 Why must I waste a tedious life in tears, Nor bury in the silent grave my cares ? Oh my Ulysses, ever honour'd name! For thee I mourn till death dissolves my frame.”
Thus wailing, slow and sadly she descends, 245 On either han a damsel train attends ; Full where the dome its shining valves expands, Radiant before the gazing peers she stands; A veil translucent o'er her brow display'd, Her beauty seems, and only seems, to shade : 250